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How is the curious cynic meant to determine the truth?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 10:20:39 AM EST
First, by reading the 27 references in the Wikipedia article, I suppose. This, however, is instantly suspicious:
The dig began in April 2006, and has involved reshaping the hill to make it look like a Mayan step pyramid.
This claim
Osmanagić claims the excavation has produced evidence of building blocks as well as tunnels. Additionally Osmanagić claims to have found tunnels in the hillside which he interprets as ventilation shafts.
should be relatively straightforward to check, too. The Wiki quotes experts invited by Osmanagic who came out saying the structures are natural
Osmanagić also invited geologist and alternative archaeologist Robert Schoch to visit the site. In a preliminary report Schoch concluded that there were natural geological explanations for all the features claimed to be artificial by Osmanagić.
Just to add, the site could be eligible as a World Heritage Site whether or not it's man-made. Geological formations are perfectly suitable candidates.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 10:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wiki is a helpful starting place but I won't assume it to be a balanced collection of references.

I'm highly sceptical of the pyramid claims but it does provide an interesting example of how does a non-specialist (of whatever field) begin to seek answers to questions which rely on expert advice.  The value of windfarms could be an example, who should I believe - Crazy Horse or the latest 'independent' report being bleated about by the media?

How does an ordinary person with a bunch of questions determine whose interests and motives seem to be prevailing?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:06:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you can read the references on the wiki site, and then you can go on Osmanagic's references and read his references.

The point is that you have to assume that the non-specialist can understand the references and judge their credibility. An appreciation for what constitutes a properly sourced or poorly sourced claim is necessary. Unfortunately, that's not innate knowledge, it's to a certain extent a learned skill, as is "critical thinking". You have a PhD, so one would assume you have that skill, and the critical thinking. Not everyone is so fortunate. And you may not be able to convince somebody else of your own conclusions regarding credibility.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
I won't assume it to be a balanced collection of references

In which case it's worth looking at the associated Talk page to get an idea of the quality and fairness of the discussion behind the page. There are quite a few more references there, too.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:30:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does an ordinary person with a bunch of questions determine whose interests and motives seem to be prevailing?

Rational or Scientific Skepticism.

Scientific skeptics attempt to evaluate claims based on verifiability and falsifiability and discourage accepting claims on faith or anecdotal evidence. Skeptics often focus their criticism on claims they consider to be implausible, dubious or clearly contradictory to generally accepted science. Scientific skeptics do not assert that unusual claims should be automatically rejected out of hand on a priori grounds - rather they argue that claims of paranormal or anomalous phenomena should be critically examined and that extraordinary claims would require extraordinary evidence in their favor before they could be accepted as having validity.

With a heavy reliance, in this case, on Critical Thinking:

... a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.

It seems to be the case on the "Pro" side the Bosnian discoverer and the Bosnian government have a strong interest in the thesis.  On the "Anti" side are disinterested specialists.  Given extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that evidence has not been provided to the satisfaction, or meets the objections of disinterested specialists, "Not Proven" seems to be the rational conclusion.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
the site could be eligible as a World Heritage Site whether or not it's man-made.

Indeed, but a lot of resource goes into applying for World Heritage status and many vested interests appear to lie in pushing the 'pyramids'. If genuine and done transparently, this should open them up to international scrutiny and acceptance but if not, a chance is then lost to promote and preserve the genuine geological and cultural heritage of the site.  

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:12:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If UNESCO recognizes the site, it will be as a cultural/archeological site OR a natural formation. It seems reasonable to expect UNESCO scrutiny to make a clear call between the two.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 11:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
alternative archaeologist Robert Schoch

Not a complete crank, but already in the ancient civilisation business:

Robert M. Schoch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert M. Schoch is an associate professor of Natural Science at the College of General Studies, a 2 year non-degree granting unit of Boston University. He received his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale in 1983, and is best known for his argument that the Great Sphinx of Giza is much older than conventionally thought and that possibly some kind of catastrophe has wiped out other evidence of a significantly older civilization. ...

Schoch's other theories include the belief that possibly all pyramids -- in Egypt, Mesoamerica and elsewhere -- represent (in the sense that the general concept of pyramids is inherited, along with many other cultural commonalities) a much older global culture, or at least that there was cultural contact around the world in ancient times. He is also known for his research on the Yonaguni underwater "monuments," ...

However, Schochs final conclusion on the Bosniak pyramids was different from what Osmanagić claims, in fact he seems to be the source of the negative views In Wales wrote about:

...It can easily be seen how some researchers, especially if not well-versed in sedimentary geology, could be persuaded by the force of Osmanagic's rhetoric that there must be at least a "little something" in the way of human-made pyramidal type structures around Visoko. Instead, what we found were totally natural hills composed of sediments dating from the Late Miocene (about six to eight million years ago).

...

Also pointing to a natural origin are the numerous fossils found in the rocks of the hills. In certain layers of the sandstones and mudstones abundant angiosperm leaves and other plant debris occur, all dating back millions of years to Late Miocene times...

Instead of paying attention to the potentially valuable fossils, Osmanagic's crews are chopping right through them, sometimes with shovels, sometimes with backhoes, and discarding the fragile remains on the scrap heaps, apparently oblivious to the loss....

Meanwhile Osmanagic's crews continue their excavations, and as a result the hills surrounding the vicinity of Visoko are being carved and sculpted into Mayan-style step pyramids and their remains hauled off with a tremendous loss of artifacts and fossils...



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Aug 27th, 2012 at 01:21:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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